Thu, Nov 26, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Theatrical dance and comedic theater prove challenging outings

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Hui, a joint production by Dance Forum Taipei, Anmaro and Cryptic, is centered upon, and inspired by, the piano music of contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun.

Photo Courtesy of National Theater Concert Hall

The past two weekends at theaters in Taipei have been interesting, with shows that delivered less — and more — than promised. The three productions viewed showed that while big ideas do not always translate well, sometimes it is better to just do what you do best.

The final two big shows in the National Theater Concert Hall’s Dancing in Autumn series, Dance Forum Taipei’s (舞蹈空間) Hui (迴) and Melbourne-based Chunky Move’s Complexity of Belonging, are cross-cultural collaborations that each had outstanding segments or individual performances, but failed to completely meld.

However, Performance Workshop’s (表演工作坊) 30th anniversary show, A Blurry Kind of Love (愛朦朧,人朦朧), was a reminder of just how good Taiwan’s premiere theater troupe is at presenting a complete package.

HUI

Hui, a joint production by Dance Forum Taipei, Amsterdam-based Anmaro Asia Arts and Glasgow-based Cryptic, inspired by the music of contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun (譚盾) and choreographed by Yang Ming-lung (楊銘隆) and Spaniard Ivan Perez Aviles, was beautifully staged and choreographed, but as a piece of dance-theater it remained as bleak and soulless as the 12 birch poles that were, beside two grand pianos, the main elements of staging.

That is not to say that it is not worth watching, just that when you leave the theater, it is individual elements you remember, not the show as a whole. In the end, one of Priscilla Leung’s (梁小衛) lines resonated perhaps more than it should have: “I feel like I am missing something.”

The problem might lie in the fact that while dance troupe, Tan, Yang and Aviles had been working on the show for three years, Cryptic and director Josh Armstrong were only pulled in last year, and with the creative team members based in four countries, everything really only came together once everyone was in Taipei.

The show begins in monochromatic black, grey and white, with splashes of color gradually added — the dancers’ red socks, Leung’s bright yellow costumes, a red cloth band that linked three dancers, an emerald green ballgown. The wiry spirals of recycled parachute chords that rose up from around the two pianos were visual reminders of the piano strings that Wang Wen-chuan (王文娟) and Hsu Yu-ting (許毓婷) often played instead of their keyboards.

It was easy to differentiate which of the two choreographers did the dance segments as their styles are very different, but the pieces and the Taiwanese and three foreign dancers blended together very well, even if Aviles must have ensured the dancers’ enmity with a prolonged bout of skipping rope.

Hui will be performed again this weekend at the Yunlin Performance Hall in Changhua County’s Yuanlin Township (員林), but without Christopher Tandy, Javier Monzon and Ines Belda.

COMPLEXITY OF BELONGING

While Hui was clearly dance-theater, Chunky Move’s Complexity of Belonging was more theater, less dance — and that was both a plus and a minus.

While German playwright and director Falk Richter’s script was intense, sometimes profane and often very, very funny, Dutch choreographer Anouk van Dijk’s movements, while very physical, seemed largely to consist of falls and pushing furniture around.

It was hard to tell, for the most part, who were the five dancers and who were the four actors, but that was a plus, as they all delivered very powerful performances, especially Lauren Langlois’ long monologue with a mile-a-minute delivery that drew loud applause from the women in the audience — and most of the men as well.

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